Winter has finally come to two of the Valley's most popular cocktails bars. About two weeks ago, both Crudo and Okra in Phoenix debuted 18 new cocktails that co-owner and head mixologist Micah Olson says are designed with the Valley's cool season in mind.
On the Crudo cocktail menu, you'll find seven new drinks including two new bourbon cocktails and two featuring one of the trendiest spirits of the moment, mezcal.
For those who like their drinks "dark and brooding" the Grand-Dad Jokes by bartender Riley Jones makes an excellent option. With a commanding base of Old Grand-Dad 114 bourbon complemented with only amaro and bitters, you might expect something far less palatable than this concoction ends up being. The rhubarb and cinnamon-forward Vecchio amaro and molasses-based Blackstrap bitters do a lot to sweeten the mix, however, giving you a drink that's a less sweet than a Manhattan but with similar appeal.
As for a light spirit option, there's the new Oreganomics, courtesy of bartender Jax Donahue. With a vodka base that's augmented with lime, vanilla, and oregano then topped with tonic, the drink's meant to echo the botanical flavors of a gin and tonic.
"So, although it's a vodka drink, I think it's a great way to transition vodka drinkers to gin," Donahue says.
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Other new Crudo cocktails include the Smoke n' Bols, a riff on a classic Mamie Taylor cocktail made with both mezcal and Bols Genever, vanilla, ginger, lime, and ruby port, and the Silence is Golden, featuring tequila and mezcal with Sibona amaro, cinnamon, tamarind, and lime.
Over at Okra, the Crudo team's Southern-inclined sophomore effort, you'll find 10 new options on the house cocktail menu in addition to the new Champagne julep made with bubbles, cognac, rosemary, and spiced cranberry. Four of the new concoctions feature light spirits (three vodka drinks and one gin), which Olson says weren't well represented on the menu originally. Two also feature bourbons including the Risky Business made with Laird's Applejack, Eagle Rare 10 Year bourbon, Drambuie, and Fernet — an effort to solidify the bar's reputation as "a bourbon bar, really," Olson says.
A few of the menus other interesting additions include the Bright Eye, Bushy Tail from bartender Jake Foster. The boozy take on an Italian soda combines vodka and gin with fresh carrot juice, seltzer, half and half, and bitters. Former Okra bartender Andrew Calisterio's Cold Brewed Dude, created for Eric Casto's Bartender at Large event last September, also earned a spot on the permanent list. Featuring tequila, Cartel cold brewed coffee, pineapple, and salted cacao, it's got all your uppers and downers in a single cup.